The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will start conducting fingerprint-based background checks on owners of durable medical equipment, home health and hospice contractors who submit claims to Medicare.

The initiative, authorized under enhanced enrollment screening provisions in the Affordable Care Act, is designed to better fight fraud. Background checks will be required for all individuals with five percent ownership or more “in a provider or supplier that falls under the high risk category,” according to CMS.

CMS will apply the high risk category to newly enrolling providers and suppliers who are handling DME, prosthetics, orthotics and related supplies, as well as existing providers and suppliers elevated to high risk based on screening regulations. The background checks will aid in detecting “bad actors” attempting to enroll in the Medicare program and to remove those currently enrolled, according to the agency.

Medicare Administrative Contractors will send notification letters to applicable providers and suppliers that list the owners that must be fingerprinted within 30 days, along with information on a contractor who can take the prints. Individuals will pay the cost of fingerprinting.

Fingerprints will be passed on to the FBI to compile background histories. More information is available here.

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